May 22nd is the International Day for Biological Diversity. Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth, encompassing all the different species of plants, animals, and microorganisms, as well as the genetic diversity within each species and the diversity of ecosystems. This diversity is the result of millions of years of evolution and is essential to the functioning of the planet’s ecosystems and our own existence.
Biodiversity is important for many reasons. It provides us with essential ecosystem services, such as the purification of air and water, pollination of plants, and the regulation of the climate. It has enormous economic value, supporting industries such as agriculture, fisheries, and tourism It supports our physical and mental well-being by providing recreational opportunities and improving the quality of our lives. But perhaps the most important reason is that it is intrinsically valuable, meaning that it has value in and of itself, independent of its usefulness to humans. How privileged are we that we get to co-exist on a planet with such an incredible array of life!
Here in the Gympie Region, we are fortunate to have an extremely high diversity of plant and animal species. This is because we sit in what is called the ‘McPherson-McLeay Overlap Zone’, an area where a combination of climate and geography have resulted in the co-occurrence of both temperate and tropical species along with a substantial number of regionally endemic species. This important diversity was recognised with the establishment of the UNESCO-recognised Great Sandy Biosphere reserve in 2009.
The reserve consists of 96 regional ecosystems, includes habitats for 49% of all bird species in Australia, and 40% of the world’s perched lakes. It includes the Woongarra Coast, the most southerly coastal fringing coral reefs on the eastern Australian mainland creating a significant habitat for fish. The Hervey Bay region is characterized by significant biodiversity, consisting of rare marine fauna, coral reefs and sea grass beds and of course the amazing humpback whale.
Locally, our Mary River is home to a variety of unique species, including the endangered Mary River turtle, which can only be found here. Other species that can be found in the Mary River include the lungfish, Australian bass, and the Mary River cod, which is also an endangered species.
Of course, of particular interest to Gympie Landcare is the flora (plants!). More than an incredible 2,800 different flora species grow within our biosphere. Characteristic species are the Sandpaper fig and Fringed Wattle. Examples of rare and threatened flora species include the Southern Penda and our very own Gympie nut – a wild macadamia species, which can be found at the Amama Walk in Amamoor.
Here at Gympie Landcare, we are committed to protecting and conserving endangered flora species in addition to protecting and restoring the habitat of vulnerable and endangered fauna. We are proud to work with other local community groups such as the Mary River Catchment Coordinating Council (MRCCC) and Koala Action Gympie Region (KAGR) as well as the Burnett Mary Regional Group, and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services, who all share the same goal of restoring and protecting natural habitat. We are working with them on a range of projects such as repairing the eroded banks of the Mary River, restoring koala corridors and promoting sustainable land management.
With World Biodiversity Day coming up, we encourage everyone to take action to protect this region’s biodiversity. Everybody can contribute to restoring and protecting our amazing region. It can be by planting some endangered plants in your own backyard or school, or planting habitat for species such as the great barred frog or the greater glider. It can be by establishing shelterbelts on your block of land or farm. It can be by volunteering with a local group such as Gympie Landcare, KAGR or MRCCC. By working together, we can ensure a sustainable future for all.
Let’s celebrate the rich diversity of life on Earth and commit to taking action to protect it. The Gympie Region is an incredibly important area for biodiversity. Don’t take it for granted. It’s up to all of us to ensure that our beautiful environment in all of its amazing diversity remains healthy and thriving for generations to come. Come and talk to our knowledgeable staff about how you can improve your backyard biodiversity, create species habitat or volunteer with us. We look forward to talking to you.